April 22 2019, 10:25 AM
As a runner, I know how hard it is to train for a race. Imagine training for a marathon for many years. You work out, you eat the right foods, and you show unbridled commitment. You plan ahead and do everything right.
Now imagine it’s the day of the race and you can almost see the finish line in sight. And then someone decides to move the line – they move the finish line further down the road.
In a sense, that is how NB Power feels about the carbon tax. Let me explain …
In 2015, Canada and 173 other nations agreed to the Paris Accord at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The goal? A 30 per cent reduction of 2005 greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) levels by 2030.
By 2017, Canada had only reduced its emissions by four per cent over 2005 levels, while New Brunswick had reduced its emissions by 24 per cent.
At NB Power, our team is proud that we are doing our part to help New Brunswick and Canada meet its targets.
By 2017, NB Power had already achieved more than twice the historic goal that was agreed by those nations in Paris. We did this by achieving an outstanding 68 per cent reduction over 2005 levels.
We didn’t achieve these outstanding results by luck. Our results came about as a result of hard work and prudent investments made on behalf of New Brunswick families and businesses.
Our shareholder, the Province of New Brunswick, has also set one of the most aggressive and progressive renewable portfolio standards in the country. This standard states that by 2020 NB Power must serve at least 40 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable sources.
NB Power is on track to meet this ambitious target.
This year, we will surpass the renewable target with approximately 41 per cent renewable production and 77 per cent carbon-free production serving New Brunswick families and businesses.
In order to achieve these results, we decommissioned fossil-fuel-fired generators. We invested significantly, but prudently, in renewable and carbon-free generation sources. We invested in smart grid and customer programs such as Energy Smart NB. And, we have done this while maintaining low and stable rates – minimizing rate increases over the past eight years (averaged slightly more than 1 per cent), and maintaining a diverse generation profile to ensure reliable power for our customers.
We took these steps to build a sustainable grid for New Brunswickers and to reduce electric bills across the province through the efficient and smart use of electricity.
Some key milestones on our mission to decarbonize New Brunswick’s electric system are:
- adding 311 megawatts of wind energy across New Brunswick starting in 2007, for a reduction of 600,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
- decommissioning the coal-fired facility at Grand Lake in 2010, for a reduction of 400,000 tonnes of GHG per year
- decommissioning the fossil-fuel-fired facility at Dalhousie in 2012, for a reduction of 1,900,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
- refurbishing the world’s first CANDU-6 nuclear reactor in 2012, for a continued reduction of 4,000,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
- completing a series of requests for approximately 80 megawatts of new community-based wind energy in 2017, for an anticipated reduction of up to 200,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year
Looking forward, we have completed extensive public consultations and studied the Mactaquac Life Achievement Project. If pursued, it would continue to save up to 1,300,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year.
On behalf of our customers, we are also working hard to develop the smart grid of the future through our Energy Smart NB program. It is anticipated that by 2042 this program will see a further reduction of up to 1,100,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year. That’s 9.5 million tonnes of GHG emissions per year – the equivalent of 2.5 million cars coming off the roads.
We are also pursuing alternative fuels for producing electricity by partnering with an innovative firm that is developing the use of hydrogen, an abundant and GHG-free fuel that could revolutionize the energy industry.
Also noteworthy is our work in advancing nuclear energy, another type of carbon-free electrical generation, with the pursuit of small modular nuclear reactors. This work will make New Brunswick a world-wide centre of excellence in the research, development, and potential demonstration in the next generation of safe and efficient nuclear energy. We have made great progress. At NB Power, our team knows we have more work to do to further reduce our carbon footprint. On behalf of our customers, we are committed to achieving further reductions for future generations through an economically sustainable approach.
Gaëtan Thomas is president and chief executive officer of NB Power.